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Fostering a rescue animal means that you agree to take an animal into your home and care for it until they can find a loving forever home through Secondhand Hounds. We are always in need of more fosters in the Twin Cities area. Most of our animals are saved directly from animal shelters where they are at risk of being euthanized, so they are in need of foster homes to show them what it means to feel loved.

Helping a rescue animal find their forever home is a priceless experience!


What will be expected of me as a foster home?

All items you need to care for your foster dog or cat (crate, food, bowl, litter box, etc.) will be provided by Secondhand Hounds, as well as any vet expenses to get them ready for their forever home. The most important part of your job will be to help reintroduce your foster animal to a home environment by giving him/her some basic training, socialization and lots of love.

Since our foster homes know the animals in their care the best, our fosters are very involved in the adoption process and decide if an applicant will be approved to adopt their foster animal. More information on the adoption process can be found below.

Please review our fostering FAQ below and reach out to if you have questions before you start fostering! 

Caring for Your Foster Animal

What does the rescue provide for foster parents?

Each foster parent will receive the following: food, bowls, leash, bedding, collar, crate, toys, treats and any needed medications. Cat fosters will also receive litter, litter box, scratching posts, etc. Before you pick up your foster, you will be asked what supplies you need to pick up when you pick up your foster. If you need other supplies, please email Our office is currently closed due to COVID-19 so supplies need to be arranged with Jenny directly.

How do I integrate the foster into my household?

A new foster animal should have slow introductions over the course of several days to all members of your household (human and animal). You can speak with your Foster Coordinator about how to best introduce your first foster into your home. Younger children should be introduced slowly to determine the compatibility with the new foster animal. It is recommended that an adult supervise all interactions between foster animals and young children. Children need to be taught the right way to treat an animal and what it means to respect an animal’s cues and need for space.

What if the foster animal does not work with my children/dogs/cats?

Please email your Foster Coordinator for tips on ways to make transitions more smooth. They are always available to help with questions! If your kids or pets are in immediate danger, we will get your foster animal out of your home as soon as possible, otherwise we ask that you give us one week’s notice for us to find a new foster.

What kinds of behavior challenges might I expect?

We do our best to eliminate the possibility of taking human or dog aggressive dogs. Still, some issues may arise. Possibilities include separation anxiety (i.e. crying or barking when left alone), marking (with urine), chewing, house training, barking and dog-aggression. We have many ways of managing these problems until they are resolved and our experienced Foster Coordinators are on hand to answer questions and provide advice.

How will I know when an application is submitted for my foster?

When a potential adopter contacts SHH, we will review the application to make sure it meets our standards. Approved applications will be emailed to you and we expect you to contact the applicants to arrange a meeting. These meetings can take place at your house, their house, or a neutral location (whatever you feel comfortable with). Sometimes, multiple families will apply to adopt your foster animal, in which case you will arrange multiple meetings, one for each potential adoptive family. We give our fosters the right to pick the best adopter, as long as they are being reasonable in their choices/denials.

How do you say goodbye to your foster animals?

The hardest one to let go is the first one, but we promise it does get easier. There are countless amounts of animals in need, and those animals all deserve a great foster homes like yours, too. Our foster volunteers have all been through “letting go,” and we can help prepare you before, during and after. We hope our foster and forever families will send us updates! Request to join this facebook group to keep up with some of the animals in our program!

What happens if I can no longer foster the animal I have?

Secondhand Hounds asks that you allow us at least one week to find a new foster. We will do our best to find a foster home for your animal in a timely manner.

Where can I take my foster dog? Friends houses, dog park, around town?

Please remember that you are responsible for the dogs in all these situations, and sometimes new situation/people stress the dog out. It is best to let the dog adapt to your home, and a few visitors at a time rather than bringing the dog in to a totally new situation right away. Also remember that if there is a fight or incident at the dog park, you are responsible. We can not control the public, and there have certainly been police calls and law suits over dog park incidents. If you would like to go to the dog park, please check with your Foster Coordinator. We want you and your foster dog to stay safe! Many cities require dog park permits/licenses, so please check your local ordinances. Secondhand Hounds is not able to cover these costs. If you are looking for other ways to socialize your foster, check out an adoption event!

What if I'm planning on travelling in a month? Can I still foster?

Of course! Just let your Foster Coordinator know your plans at least one week in advance (the more time the better!) and we will make arrangements for a temporary foster home for your foster animal.

If I spend money on my foster animal, will I be reimbursed?

Pre-approval from the foster coordinator is required for reimbursements. In most instances, we will have what you need at our office, or we can get it for you! If you choose to purchase your own supplies, you may deduct them on your taxes. For a tax receipt, please email For all medical needs/supplies/medications, you must contact the appropriate foster coordinator for approval. DO NOT take your foster animal to a vet without prior approval from your foster coordinator.

Choosing a Foster Animal

How long does one typically foster a dog or cat before it finds a forever home?

It is very hard to give an average time an animal is in foster care. Many puppies and kitties are adopted within a month​ or two, while some adult dogs have been in foster care for years! Most of the time, our animals are adopted relatively quickly, but we cannot make any guarantee as to how long they will be in your home. We ask that you commit to the animal you are fostering until a forever family is found.

Can I choose what dog/cat I want to foster?

Yes! All of our animals needing a foster home are posted on our Secondhand Hounds Fosters Needed Facebook page. If you find a dog or cat who interests you, contact the Foster Coordinator and he/she will ensure the animal will be a good fit for your household. You can also give us criteria for the type of dog or cat you want to foster. After you let us know your criteria (i.e. age, size, gender), we will do our best to match you with the perfect foster animal.

What is the role of my Foster Coordinator?

Foster Coordinators help find dogs and cats to come to rescue, and are responsible for placing them in foster homes that are a good fit. Foster Coordinators are also the main resource and support system for all of the fosters. If you have a question about your foster animal, you should talk to your FC. If it is a question that they can not answer, they will delegate that question to someone who has the answer. See them and all of our staff here!

Where do the dogs/cats come from?

Our animals are rescued from high-kill shelters all around the Midwest. We have volunteers who regularly visit these facilities and look for animals that need our help. We have developed great relationships with shelter workers who contact us when they have animals in danger of being euthanized. If you are interested in more information about your specific foster, we will do our best to tell you where he/she comes from, and his/her background story, if possible. We also receive some of our animals from owner surrenders – owners who can no longer provide care for their animals, but who want to ensure the best possible new home is found for them.

Am I putting my personal pets in danger by agreeing to foster?

Because our dogs and cats come from shelter situations, they have unknown histories and it’s quite possible they haven’t had their medical needs properly met. They sometimes have kennel cough (the equivalent of a human cold) and worms, among other possibilities. Before we bring the dogs/puppies and cats/kittens into a foster situation, we de-worm them, vaccinate them, and give them Frontline or other flea/tick preventatives. We highly recommend your resident animals are on Frontline or another flea/tick preventatives prior to fostering.

Medical Needs for My Foster Animal

Who pays the medical expenses of the foster animal?

All approved medical expenses for foster animals are paid by Secondhand Hounds. Before scheduling any medical appointments, please email our Vet Manager (dogs) or Jen (cats). In case of an emergency, please call Rachel/Jen ASAP. In many cases Rachel/Jen can get the animal seen at one of our partner vet clinics for a fraction of the cost of a non-affiliated emergency vet. The emergency number is found below.

What if I have a medical emergency with my foster animal?

Please only call in the following circumstances:

  • Immediate veterinary care is needed.
    Examples include: severe bleeding/wounds, broken bones, excessive vomiting, obvious signs of pain, the animal has run away or animal has been in a fight.
  • Immediate danger to other animals or people (you will be advised to bring your foster dog to our office, but handling procedures, codes, etc. will be provided by Rachel/Jen).
  • Please leave a voicemail for the vetting contact and your call will be returned immediately if it is deemed an emergency. Otherwise, please wait for an email, which can take up to 24 hours. If the status changes and your foster animal appears in distress, feel free to call again and leave an updated message. If you leave a voicemail please also send a follow-up email to (dogs) or (cats).
  • In case of a lost animal, please call 952-373-1386 and email
    EMERGENCY CONTACT (10pm – 7am): Please email if it is outside of emergency hours. Only call if it is potentially life-threatening.
    DOG EMERGENCY CONTACT: 612-280-1496.
    CAT EMERGENCY CONTACT: Jen Swanson, 651-325-7629

What if I have a routine vetting question?

For any non-emergency vetting questions (for example: spay/neuter, routine vetting, nail trims, vetting being completed prior to adoption) please email the appropriate contact below:

  • Dogs - Alexa at
  • Cats - Jen at

ready to start fostering?


the adoption process

How are animals adopted at Secondhand Hounds?

Your foster animal will be posted on our website as available for adoption – for dogs this happens on the Wednesday after they come into rescue as long as their are no immediate medical issues. Cats are added to the website once their medical needs are addressed or scheduled with a vet. Puppies will be put on website at 6 weeks, but they cannot go to their adoptive home until after their spay/neuter appointments, typically at 8 weeks of age.  


Fosters are welcome to adopt their foster animals, but once an applicant applies and meets the animal, the applicants have first right to adopt. We do not hold animals off the website, so please decide if you want to adopt in a timely manner!


Prospective adopters submit an application for adoptable animals with details about them. Our adoption coordinators will forward you applications via email that meet our requirements.


You, as the foster, review applications for your foster animal and decide whether the applicant would be a good fit for your foster animal. If you are not moving forward with the application, please inform the adoption coordinator as to your decision within 72 hours (you can also inform the applicant yourself if you choose). If you want to proceed with the application, you must contact the applicant within 72 hours for a meet and greet! The sooner you can reply, the better – some people apply for multiple animals with multiple organizations!


If you approve of the adopters, you let us know and we’ll get going on completing the other steps in the adoption process (home visit, landlord approval, reference checks, payment).


What if you get a lot of interest and applications? We encourage you to only meet with 1-2 applicants at a time, but you must contact the other applicants to let them know you are pursuing other applicants and will be in touch if anything changes. The applications are not first come first serve, it is about the best fit for the animal! We do ask that you respond to applicants in a timely manner and let us know if you are interested in adopting once an application is received.


Your foster animal will need to be up to date on vaccines and spayed or neutered before they can go to their new home.


How can I help my foster animal
find their forever home? 

Write a bio for your foster animal. This information should be sent to your foster coordinator ASAP as the bio and photos are very important to prospective adopters. We will take great photos as intake, but love candid shots and videos that show your fosters personality! Share key information – any behavior issues, likes/dislikes, or important information that will help your foster find their best match!

Need tips for writing a bio? Check out the bios of some of our current consignment cats & secondhand hounds! Attend an adoption event to get your foster out in public with possible adopters. We have events all over the Twin Cities. For event eligibility and rules, click here.


If you are interested in fostering and live in the Twin Cities area, please fill out our Foster Application.

If you have any questions on becoming a foster, please email